Ap­peal for help to sup­port vi­tal wit­ness ser­vice

Macclesfield Express - - SCHOOLS NEWS - KAREN BRIT­TON

AW­IT­NESS ser­vice needs vol­un­teers to help its vi­tal work sup­port­ing peo­ple who give ev­i­dence in court.

Peo­ple giv­ing ev­i­dence in tri­als at Mac­cles­field Mag­is­trates Court are sup­ported by the team from the Wit­ness Ser­vice.

It’s the team’s job to show wit­nesses around the court and ex­plain what will hap­pen in the hear­ings so that they feel con­fi­dent to play their part in the court­room.

But the ser­vice is strug­gling for vol­un­teers to carry out its work, with some re­cent re­tire­ments from helpers.

Now man­ager Bebe Singer, who has been part of the ser­vice at Mac­cles- field for more than 10 years, is ap­peal­ing for more vol­un­teers to join the team.

Bebe said: “We are look­ing for vol­un­teers to join us in help­ing vic­tims and wit­nesses of crime who are com­ing to give ev­i­dence in court.

“Vic­tims and wit­nesses may be very ner­vous and we re­ceive a re­fer­ral to say that they will need ex­tra sup­port when they come to court.

“We in­vite them into court be­fore the hear­ing to show them around and tell them how things work.

“We will know all the wit­nesses who are due to come into court on a cer­tain day, and the pros­e­cu­tion and de­fence have to be kept com­pletely sep­a­rate so as not to con­tam­i­nate ev­i­dence.

“It can be very fright­en­ing to come into court but it’s so im­por­tant that peo­ple come to give ev­i­dence.

“It’s an im­por­tant part of the jus­tice sys­tem that peo­ple feel com­fort­able to give ev­i­dence.”

Wit­ness Ser­vice is a char­i­ta­ble ser­vice which is now run by the Citizen’s Ad­vice Bureau, af­ter the or­gan­i­sa­tion won the ten­der for the ser­vice and took over ear­lier this year.

It re­lies partly on fundrais­ing and partly on gov­ern­ment fund­ing.

Bebe said: “There will be shad­ow­ing and train­ing to do and we need peo­ple who can com­mit for at least a year.

“Any­one is welcome to ap­ply to join the ser­vice but we need peo­ple with good peo­ple skills who know how to chat.

“It’s re­ally re­ward­ing work, it’s help­ing peo­ple and I love be­ing part of the team.”

Bebe needs peo­ple to work about one day a week and urges peo­ple to get in touch.

Call Bebe on 0300 332 1265 on Tues­days and Thurs­days or email her at bebe.singer@cit­i­zen­sad­vice.org.uk to find out more and ap­ply.

●● Bebe Singer

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